Three C's

Communication, the Cornerstone of the Three Cs

In our previous article we discussed the Three Cs of communication, collaboration, and cooperation. We explored how a breakdown in any or all of them can result in dysfunction in the family business—frankly in any business. We also discussed the idea of simplexity—breaking a complex concept or issue into simple, actionable points. Today we’ll delve into what I consider to be the cornerstone of the Three Cs; communication. Without communication, there can be no collaboration or cooperation.

Complicated by Family Dynamics

In a standard business model, bad behavior is quickly addressed through coaching and development. However, in too many closely held businesses the dynamic of “family correctness” disrupts the normal flow of constructive feedback. It creates stress for the family member and those around them when the family member cannot fundamentally do the job. The only correct thing to do is address this with authentic, transparent, and well-defined communication.

Defining Communication

Many times people define communication very simply – one person talking with another. While simple in theory, communication is very complex--communication is simplex. Communication is not just about listening more and talking less. Real communication is driven by a desire for mutually beneficial dialog and respecting and valuing the thoughts, ideas and input other than our own.

Communication in its simplex form means we take the time to understand how someone prefers to communicate; why they prefer to communicate that way, and how their communication style impacts their approach.

Understanding Different Styles

As complex as communication may seem, there are only four communication styles. At Perpetual Development, we use a TTI Success Insights Trimetrix HD AssessmentTM to analyze communication styles among team members for our clients in closely held and family companies.


  • Direct
  • Big Picture
  • Determined

Strengths: People with a Dominance style see the big picture, willingly accept challenges, and exude confidence.
Challenges: This style may be interpreted as domineering, impatient, and blunt.


  • Optimistic
  • Collaborative
  • Persuasive

Strengths: They are outgoing, friendly, optimistic and collaborative.
Challenges: Can be perceived as flighty, shallow, and pushy.


  • Calm
  • Humble
  • Supportive

Strengths: Sincere, patient, and consistent best describes this style.
Challenges: Fears change and needs time to adapt.


  • Cautious
  • Independent
  • Precise

Strengths: High level of accuracy and independence.
Challenges: Gets stuck in the “weeds” and may not relinquish control.

Understanding each communication style will help us become better communicators, because we can adjust our leadership approach and draw the best outcome from our staff. The strongest communicators have honed their powers of observation to the point that they can adapt their communication style to elicit the very best from others.

Styles Differ

Improving communication requires that we recognize and understand that we have different communication styles. Everyone has a dominant communication style; however people are a combination of all four. Each of us has a communication style that is our Achilles heel, or that is more difficult for us to use. Our dominant style often influences how we interact with others and how we are perceived. We also adapt our style when dealing with others.

Not Just One Style

Although we all have one of these four as our dominant communication style; very few of us use only one style all the time. There are times when a Dominance style may use Steadiness traits (calm, supportive) to diffuse a particularly volatile situation. Conversely, a Dominance style of communication may be required in certain circumstances--when we must make a quick decision.

More than Words

Words are only one of the ways in which we express ourselves, and often our behavior belies the words coming out of our mouth. How often has someone said he or she agrees with you while his or her head subconsciously shakes back and forth in the globally accepted motion for “no”? Their words indicate agreement, but their body language is telling you a different story. This is just one instance of how effective communication entails more than just speaking and listening; it requires observation.

Actions Speak Louder

I believe one of the secrets to becoming an exceptional communicator is honing your powers of observation because we often experience communication through the behavior of others rather than their words.

We often use action as a stand-in for direct interaction. When Bob does not receive a promotion, he feels he deserves he may show up late for work or “forget” an important meeting as a way to show his displeasure. Sometimes these behaviors are intentional; other times they may be purely subconscious. Either way, the behavior has a negative impact on the business.

Self-Awareness Plays a Critical Role

It is easier to point out character flaws in others than it is to see them in ourselves. However, the only way to adequately address dysfunction in others is to understand and manage our personal communication strengths and challenges.

Effective communicators have a heightened awareness of who they are and what triggers certain emotions or reactions. For example, Samantha is a self-aware leader that realizes she has a bias to hire and surround herself with people that agree with her. She also knows that diversity in opinion and background are crucial to the success of the business. As a self-aware leader, Samantha takes steps to minimize the impact of her bias by including people with differing values and backgrounds in the interview process.

Do you know your preferred communication style? The first step to being an outstanding communicator is to identify your style.

Practical Application

Real, meaningful communication requires what I like to call Full Mental Engagement  (FME). It takes focus and practice to hone your self-awareness and improve your communication skills.

The next time you are in a dialog use your powers of observation along with your ears to increase your understanding. Consider the following;

  • Do they demonstrate urgency or rapid pace of speaking?
  • Are they verbal and optimistic in their approach?
  • Do they prefer to do many things at once or do they prefer a steady and consistent pace?
  • Do they demonstrate a high degree of detail and follow-through, or were the rules invented for someone else—only followed when there is no other option?

We’ll explore collaboration in its simplex form in our next article.

Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Perpetual Development

Is Your Family Business Ready for the Generational Relay?

Building a family business--or any business for that matter—is like running a relay race. You start with a sprint, set a good pace, and eventually hand off to the next person chosen to carry the baton. The baton is passed to the successor, and the race continues. The big difference between publicly owned firms and family owned businesses are how they choose a successor. While publicly owned firms tend to replace outgoing leaders through a selective succession and recruitment process, in a family owned company the hand-off is usually to another family member.

The ability to successfully transfer the leadership of a family enterprise from one generation to the next requires well-defined skill and strategy. Unfortunately, only about one-third of family businesses are successfully handed off to the next generation. Lack of careful and thoughtful planning is one of the key reasons that many family owned businesses do not continue past the first generation. So what can we do to ensure a successful generational hand-off?

Planning for Transition

The first thing we must do is create a comprehensive transition plan. This is not an easy task, and many founders feel a sense of loss when they contemplate handing off the company to someone else. However, a successful transition is critical to sustaining the business and keeping it in the family.

Start Early

A smooth change in generational leadership takes time, and requires time for careful planning and implementation. Prepare a detailed transfer and sustainability plan a minimum of 24 months in advance of the actual exit from the business. This will allow ample time to prepare, coach, mentor, and support the leader in their new role.

Share the Vision

Do not create your transition plan in a vacuum. Discuss the plan with your team. Communication and clarity regarding timeline and decision-making accountabilities are fundamental to transition success.

Culture is Crucial

Your successor should understand and value the company culture. Ensure you clearly explain the culture of the organization and the values used to make decisions.  If these values do not exist in your successor, you may want to consider other options for the transition of leadership.

Integrating the Next Gen

Integrate the next generation of leadership into their position ahead of exiting the business. Here is where the 24-months I mentioned earlier come into play, since you should begin this process a full 2-years before your planned exit.

  1. For the first 12-months the exiting leader works collaboratively in partnership with their successor. However, the Decision Making Accountability (DMA) remains with the current leader.
  2. For the next 6-months the current and future leaders should work in partnership with DMA being transferred to the successor. DMA should not be imposed by the current leader unless the decision represents a fatal flaw to the company.
  3. For the final 6-months prior to full transition the exiting leader becomes an advisor to the successor with accountability and DMA now residing with the next generation of leadership.

Leave Room

Transitioning leadership of the company is difficult at best. It is not easy to let go when one invests their life into creating a successful business. Passing the leadership baton does not mean there is no place for the former generation. You can leverage their business acumen by giving them meaningful assignments that serve the company; identify them as a mentor and assign a mentee; or ask them to serve as a company representative for an industry association. Provide clearly defined roles that allow involvement and contribution in the business, but that are not connected to the day-to-day decision making of the organization.

Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Thinking as a strategy build business

Thinking as a Strategy to Build Your Business

A force multiplier is a factor that can dramatically increase (multiply) the effectiveness of leadership performance and company profitability. For the purpose of our article, clear critical and strategic thinking are a powerful force that you can use to radically multiply your capability as a leader.

Valuing Strategic Thought

As owners and executives, we cannot afford to lead from a position of internal isolation or limited thinking about key issues or strategies impacting our business. The right strategy can catapult our company to success, and some would argue that the ability to think strategically is the defining skill that elevates one from an average leader to a game changer. Strategic thought is so prized that in a study by Management Research Group, they found that 97% of senior executive’s value strategic thinking above any other leadership attribute.

Strategic Leadership of Thought

Strategic thinking requires foresight and the ability to set aside or challenge conventional “wisdom”—even our own assumptions. It requires opening our minds to every conceivable outcome for our business.  We do not stop at analyzing what we should be doing differently; we focus on how we can accomplish our goals, and why those goals are worth our attention.

Planning Follows Thought

It is not enough to think about the company strategy. Once you identify new strategy for the organization, you must be able to formulate and communicate a set of goals to move the business to the next level. This is the point where strategic thinking becomes a deliberate plan of action for your company.

Thought as a Competency

In order to make thinking a Force Multiplier that has a positive impact on the strategy and practical direction of our firm, we must continually seek to increase our thought competence. Critical and strategic thinking is a skill that must be learned and improved over a lifetime, and we should concentrate on developing the attributes of a strategic thinker.

  • Be Curious
    • Challenge yourself to think about how to continually improve the performance of your business. Produce thought provoking ideas around which you and your team can begin to formulate actions.
  • Observe and Question
    • Learn to listen with all of your senses when interacting with people. Observe the speakers body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Ask questions that are designed to uncover the real meaning or motivation behind the words.
  • Find the Why
    • Continually seek to understand the “Why” of the situation. Finding the cause can lead to thoughtful and innovative solutions.
  • Unbiased Analysis
    • When you set aside your bias you can consider the totality of the situation and context as it relates to people, processes, products and performance. Become acutely aware of the biases within your thinking that can lead to blind spots in business performance.

Force Multiplier Zones

Below I outline five critical areas of your business that will benefit from clear, focused, critical and strategic thinking.

  1. Think about your customers in terms of maximizing relationships and optimizing return to your company. Not all customers are created equal; which customers add value and who may be more trouble than they are worth? Think about why and determine next steps.
  1. Think about your organizational structure. People and positions, like equipment and processes, should deliver quantifiable efficiency and produce a return on investment. Which do and which don’t? Think about why and determine next steps.
  1. Think about what is purposefully being done to develop your people. Common business logic dictates that Sales and operational results drive organizational performance. Lower results equal an increased emphasis on expectations and outputs. People fuel performance. Development fuels people. How purposeful is your development of people? Think about why and determine next steps.
  1. Think about the processes and systems currently in place in your company. Analyze which systems and processes support your business. Do they exist to support your business and people, or have they become obsolete dinosaurs that hinder more than help? Think about why and determine next steps.
  1. Think about the bias vs. objectivity of decision making by leaders within your company. Objectivity is a powerful perspective to effective decision making. This is the difference between “what we think we know” (bias) and “what we actually know” (objectivity) One is an opinion, and one is a combination of data, fact and our intuition or gut feel. Can you advance the objectivity of decisions ahead of the bias of judgments? Think about why and determine next steps.

Full Mental Engagement

Thinking is a continual process, rather than an abstract exercise. Thinking requires full mental engagement. When you are fully engaged in the thought process–– without distractions and interruptions—you can think clearly, critically, and strategically to solve the challenges your business faces each day.

Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.




How to think with clarity

Clarity of Thought as a Competitive Advantage

When is the last time you stopped to consider the thoughts that are constantly running through your mind? This may appear to be an odd question to pose, but it is actually a valid query. Most of us don’t put much intellectual energy into how well we think, yet our thoughts drive every personal and business decision we make and action we take.

Clearly Competitive

When our thoughts are in disarray, it becomes difficult to make good business decisions and making the appropriate decision for your company can be the difference between success and failure. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey Quarterly , only 28 percent of surveyed executives felt that the quality of strategic decisions made in their companies was good. These results highlight the need for considerable improvement in our ability to think clearly about our business. Focusing on improving our capacity to think purposefully and strategically can give an organization a distinct competitive advantage.

The Busyness of Doing

We all too often find ourselves busy with all of the daily tasks (the doing) we need to accomplish. Our calendars are full of work to be accomplished and meetings to attend, but where does practicing clear, critical and strategic thinking fit into all this busyness? When we are preoccupied with doing, we are rarely focused on thinking. We push aside the thoughtful opportunities that could tip us and our company into the high-performance zone.

We start each day by doing; the alarm clock sounds and we’re off! We jump in the shower; dress; eat breakfast; commute to the office, and begin our work day as a series of thoughtless tasks. Doing is automatic and fundamental to our daily existence, and it’s much easier to “do” than it is to stop and consider.

While the “just do it” approach may clear your calendar, it probably won’t give your company a competitive advantage. It’s time we add “thinking” to our schedule. Carving out time to spend on practical, strategic and critical thoughts must become a daily priority in our lives. With so much depending on our ability to think clearly, we must find time to invest in the improvement of our critical thinking skills.

The Discipline of Thinking

Where doing is automatic, thinking requires discipline and focus. Blocking time on your calendar to spend exercising your brain is the first step toward improving your thought processes. The next is to prepare for the mental exercise. Think of it as mental stretching before you give your brain a workout.

No interruptions

You can’t focus your thoughts on strategy when you are constantly being interrupted. Turn off the phone; shut your door and concentrate.

One thing at a time

You must clear your mind of distractions in order to thoroughly consider and solve a business problem. Mental multi-tasking is the antithesis of strategic thinking. Pick one challenge and try to solve it with single-minded purpose.

Think you can

Believing that you can solve the problem at hand is critical to finding the appropriate solution. A lack of confidence in one’s ability leads to anxiety and muddles your thought process. So leave doubt at the door and trust your instincts.

These are a few of the techniques you can use to improve your critical, practical, and strategic thought processes. We’ll explore additional methods for refining your thinking ability in upcoming articles.

Brent Patmos is the founder and President of Perpetual Development, Inc., an organizational performance company serving the exclusive needs of privately-held and family-owned business leaders. You can contact Brent via email: or by phone at 480-812-2200. You can follow Brent on twitter -  @BrentPatmos and connect with him on LinkedIn.